7 years ago, after 15 years of marriage, Jack decided to leave his wife, Emily, the mother of his two children. His daughters, Carrie and Jessica, were 13 and 11 at the time. Before leaving his wife, Jack had been having affairs on-and-off for almost 5 years; he no longer loved his wife and was sick of living a lie.
At first, his daughters would visit him every weekend, but once he remarried, they came less and less often. Once his new wife, Maria, had a baby, his daughters stopped visiting all together, saying that the baby kept them up at night. Jack believes his daughters resent him for leaving their mother. He is sure their mother has told them about all of the affairs and poisoned them against him.
As a result, Jack is angry at his ex-wife and if he’s being honest, at his daughters too for not being able to see his perspective. After the divorce, Emily invited Jack to family therapy on a number of occasions, but he did not go. Jack thinks Emily purposely scheduled the therapy sessions during working hours to make sure he couldn’t go, another attempt to make him look bad.
Jack hasn’t spoken to either of his daughters in two years. Although he always sends them money on their birthdays and Christmas, he never gets a reply. Today, Emily reached out to let him know that their youngest daughter, Jessica, has a drug problem. The family is planning on holding an intervention for Jessica, and Emily thinks Jack should be there. She believes that Jack’s abandonment of the family is a huge reason that Jessica has turned to drugs. She insists that it will not be possible for Jessica to recover until things have been made right with her father. Emily wants Jack not only to come to the intervention and read a letter to Jessica, she also wants him to attend therapy with the family at least once a week and visit Jessica in rehab on a regular basis.
Jack is in a state of shock. He feels like he has been kept out of the loop for years and now the family wants his help. He also feels that he is being blamed for all of Jessica’s problems when Emily was the one spending most of the time with her. He said he does not want to attend.
Where is Jack’s anger coming from? Does he feel attacked? When have you ever felt attacked? Did you react in a sensible way? What is the best way to respond when you feel like you’re under attack? Next time, will you react the same way?